Jun 27/97: Innu remind Queen of genocide


Victoria Times-Colonist, p. A10
Friday, June 27, 1997
Michelle McAfee - Canadian Press

[SISIS note: The following mainstream news article is provided for reference only, as an example of how mainstream media treats indigenous resistance to genocide. It may contain biased and distorted information and may be missing pertinent facts and/or context.]

Sheshatshiu, Nfld. - About 350 Labrador Innu welcomed the Queen to their community Thursday, while down the road about 30 protesters waved placards denouncing her visit.

The two groups had similar messages for the Queen, but they couldn't have chosen more opposing ways of delivering them.

In Sheshatshiu, the Queen went inside a traditional hunting tent lined with spruce branches and caribou skins.

She greeted elders and children dressed in traditional clothes, while wild duck roasted on the stove. Paul Rich, chief of the local Innu band, explained a gift of artwork to the Queen while at the same time making her aware of the problems aboriginals have faced since colonization.

"We did not choose to live under someone's laws...to have our people fall into substance abuse, to be marginalized and to have major mining developments disrupt our way of life," said Rich.

He said the Innu's fight is with the Canadian and Newfoundland governments, not the Queen.

But Daniel Ashini, vice-president of the Innu Nation and organizer of the protest, said the Queen should support aboriginal people's right to sef-government.

"We're not happy the Queen is here," said Ashini, flanked by rain-soaked supporters.

"We're still a colonized people and our resources are still being raped by the government."

The protesters distributed a copy of a letter that they said six-year-old Jonathan Pinette delivered to the Queen during her visit to Sheshatshiu.

The letter outlined the impact of colonization.

"We have been treated as non-people, with no more rights than the caribou on which we depend," said the letter signed by Ashini.

"In spite of this, we remain a people in the fullest sense of the word. We have not given up and we are now looking to rebuild our pride and self-esteem."

On Tuesday, the Innu were among key organizers of a protest in Bonavista, Nfld., denouncing Newfoundland's Cabot 500 celebrations, where the Queen and Prince Philip were the guests of honor.

Aboriginals have said it's insulting to celebrate explorer John Cabot's arrival in North America because of the devastating impact colonization has had on them.

But many who gathered Thursday seemed thrilled to see the Queen.

"The way I see it, she is everybody's Queen," said Mary Pia Benuen.

"It's nice for her to know who the Innu are and why we're fighting for our land claim and self-government all the time."

Jack Penashue said those issues are better left to negotiations with politicians.

"This is a community event," he said. "If they're going to protest in regards to a political fight they should do it on a political level -- this is not the place."

The Queen's visit to this riverside community of 1,200 stood out on other levels.

Dogs meandered about her sand-covered route and there was not a Union Jack or Maple Leaf in sight. There was none of the gushing witnessed at previous events this week, but there was still a genuine warmth about the event.

The community has spent the last several weeks cleaning up along highways and had blue and white balloons tied to a bridge along the road into town.

This was the Queen's first visit to Labrador.

The Queen and Prince Philip were later greeted with a warm welcome and weather as their royal tour hit London, Ont.

The couple was greeted by the usual dignitaries as well as Tina Warrington, 11, a cerebral palsy sufferer was given a special dispensation from the Queen's protocol office to bow rather than curtsy because her legs were too wobbly to hold her up. Warrington presented the first of many floral bouquets to be handed over during the Queen's seven-day Ontario visit.

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